November 2022 Enga Stewart
November 1, 2022
Life took a major change on the evening of July 17, 2019. Earlier that day, I had spent time gardening and had gone swimming and kayaking. That evening, I had a hemorrhagic stroke where the right side of my body went numb from head to toe. I told my husband, John, that I couldn’t feel my right arm and felt weak. I went upstairs, John asked me to put both arms up, smile, and repeat a jingle. He called 911 and said I was showing signs of stroke.
An ambulance came, took me to Maine General Medical Center Augusta, Maine. I was evaluated and within a few hours transported by Life Flight to Maine Medical in Portland, Maine. After 10 days of ICU in Maine Medical I returned to Augusta’s Maine General by ambulance. Admission to Maine General was immediately to Acute Rehabilitation.Full memory to where I was and what had happened returned at Augusta.
For the next continuous 21 days, every day was P T, O T, and Speech Therapy Treatments. The daily activities were intense and tiring. Each therapy was individualized and based on my progress. The next stage of rehabilitation was at Grey Birch Rehabilitation Facility, Augusta.
The rehabilitation at Grey Birch lasted for a month. I returned home in late September in a wheelchair. For the next six months, I had home rehab for PT, OT, and speech therapy. I could walk with a walker, but driving, biking, kayaking, cross country skiing, and swimming all became a memory.
Life had changed drastically, but I was grateful speech was coming better. I spent a lot of time looking out the window and thanking God for all my blessings. I taught for 23 years which included: computer education, training educators, and principalship. I retired at 62 and was presented with a certificate for being “the principal that smiles the most.” I have been positive and persistent to pace recovery. I use my voice to bring positivity to all of my friends and family. I’m grateful for the support I receive, and for my husband, who is a wonderful caregiver.
I exercise every day. I work on my legs and upper body, and I continue to strengthen my core. I continue to receive physical therapy as progress continues. Progress is measured in months and years. I presently participate in MedRhythms and Chair Yoga weekly. I use a stationary bike every day. My neurologist told me to knit therefore I knit one row at a time per day. I continue to walk with a walker, yet hope to swim again. I am grateful every day for being one of the 20% who have a hemorrhagic stroke and survive. I experience falls and challenges, but am grateful to get up and continue. We are advocates for ourselves and others. It might take all day to complete an activity which three years ago took an hour.
Blessings and Smiles!